Sunday, October 19

CDP Top 30 Of All-Time ('06-'08) - #12.

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#12 - "Praying For The End Of Time."
(Originally Published May 16, 2007.)

Praying For The End Of Time.

CDP- "Honestly hun, I don't think this place actually exists."
MISSUS- "Please... don't be an idiot tonight."

Waukau, Wisconsin. According to my sister, she's driven through there on multiple occasions, seeing not a single person in the process. Her theory was that it was a long-abandoned Ghost Town; mine was that the place was just a fake front for an all-human, for-profit slaughterhouse. Although I spent my entire Saturday night within the confines of Waukau, I was unable to confirm or deny either speculation.

A friend of ours was graduating from college, so her family threw her a party at a Youth Center-style pavilion in Waukau, which was about 10 minutes outside of the Missus' hometown of Winneconne (and where I went to school for 12 years). The fact that I had never known of the existence of this place troubled and confused me; you'd think there would have been at least one night where I ended up there, perhaps a flat tire or through a friend-of-a-friend, but nope. After about a half-hour of hairpin, 5-mile-an-hour turns through thick brush and darkness, we arrived.

I put on my game face.

Me and the Missus showed up with Ben and Sherry, and I instantly got a serious headache just seconds after stepping under the fluorescent lights that had been set to 'Perma-Noon.' The Missus and Sherry started with mingling with all of their close acquaintances and the Guest of Honor, and I started wrangling up as much alcohol as I could find for myself and Ben. We eventually settled on a concoction of whiskey, Diet Sierra Mist and lime vodka that had the both of us reeling after about 20 minutes.

Add that to generous portions of cheese and potato salad we instantly consumed, and we were pretty much set for the evening. True to form, I was becoming more and more unapproachable as the night kicked into motion.

I don't know whether my ability to function properly in social settings is getting exponentially worse, or I'm just more in tune with the fact that I'm no longer good at it. Either way, it's gotten to the point where I honestly don't see any reason why people would want to sit next to me and mingle. Sure, I'm sexy enough and smell like freshly mown grass, but most of the time I just act surly and eventually offend someone until one of us walks away, never to return. I chalk it up to social anxiety, crippling nervousness coupled with alcohol, and a heaping helping of apathy to boot.

I'm on when I want to be on, kids. 'Life of the Party' CDP and 'Depressed Asshole' CDP have always been my standby party personas, but I've noticed that the more positive of the two is making fewer and fewer appearances. I could speculate as to why, but I think it's just resounding selfishness and laziness on the part of yours truly. I'm not proud of it; I'm just acknowledging that it's there.

Back at the party, a friend of the family was manning the karaoke machine, and he sounded almost exactly like Boomhauer from King Of The Hill when he spoke. On the positive side, his voice wasn't all that bad, and I didn't cringe or get uncomfortable whenever he sang a tune. He did, however, have a bag of props that he liberally dipped into from time to time (afro wig, oversized cowboy hat, etc.), and that was no good, Johnny Cash tune or otherwise.

"You know what this party needs?" I slurred over to Ben, who was just as tipsy on the other side of the table.


"A Wii!" I exclaimed, in reference to the latest unnecessary gadget adorning my living room. The two of us had spent the last day and a half mastering the mechanics of the latest Nintendo innovation, and I could hear it calling my name amongst the reverberations of 'Walking After Midnight' and 'Ocean Front Property.'

"Stop drinking. You have to drive us home." The Missus snapped from one chair over. She was right, so my night ended a little early; instead opting for ice water and chewing on stirring straws.

I dizzily made my way to the pavilion bathroom and spent a minute or so looking into the mirror. After accepting how God-awful I look under buzzing fluorescent lights and attempting to ignore my horrid headache, I started asking myself questions that shouldn't be contemplated in public restrooms. You know, the same ridiculous and inane questions I ask myself about every 4 months or so.

"What am I doing here?"

(Well, you're here with your wife and friends because one of them graduated from College, and that's a good thing. We're here to celebrate someone's achievements. You do know what achievements are, right?)

"Okay. Then why am I so unhappy?"

(Because you're uncomfortable and out-of-place. You probably know 6 other people there, and everyone else is wearing plaid shirts and NASCAR hats. You're worried that you don't fit in, which is why you've been making fun of everyone tonight, and deserve to be thrown out. Stop drinking, get your head on straight and don't make your wife's friends think that married a butthole.)

"I see.... So, what's my problem, anyway?"

(You're selfish. You don't know that you are, but trust me, you are. Every waking moment of your life should not be spent trying to make yourself happy, you know. Every now and again, you need to step back and just be for awhile. I don't care if there's something else you'd rather be doing; stop being a shallow jerk. Shake this lingering bad attitude and start telling jokes, monkey. Funny ones.)

Silly me.

I thought my social anxiety reached a fever pitch plateau a few weeks ago, when I had a near-meltdown at a bowling alley that almost resulted in my ass being kicked. A group of us hit the local lanes, when I was instantly reminded why I try my damnest to avoid bars, concerts or anywhere else that hoards of idiots congregate. I was instantly drowning in smoke, unbearable country music, hootin', hollerin' and various other activities that vapid losers partake in a feeble attempt to have 'fun.'

Never mind the fact the everyone should be allowed to enjoy themselves in any way they seem fit and I was just being an elitist jerk; I was being rubbed the wrong way, and my faith in humanity continued to drop through the floor.

You can only mock rednecks for so long until they start looking at you and wisen up. Of course, getting one of them to wisen up can take anywhere from several hours to days even, but it will happen eventually. They'll wipe the tobacco juice from their collective chins, take their 15 year old girlfriends off of their laps, adjust their Confederate flag belt buckles and start swinging. Luckily for me, it didn't get to that point, because my wife was smart enough to tell me to shut the hell up and pick up that 2-3-5 Spare. I swear to you, I bought Wii Sports just so I never have to go to an actual bowling alley again.

Long after everyone else forgot about it, that night at the alley stuck with me. Why was I so angered by the conflicting enjoyment of others? Why was it so easy for me to collapse based entirely on the conflicting behavior of others? Why did I hate people so much? Surely, this behavior can't be a normal reaction, could it?

I took my mom and sister out for ice cream on Mother's Day. After ordering our stuff, I refused to sit and eat in the store, as I felt there were far too many 'loud, obnoxious idiots' around (you should have seen the place; I was sort of right). Adhering to my wishes, we all ate our ice cream in my Mom's minivan. Does that sound like something you've ever done? I doubt it, yet the people around me are starting to treat this as acceptable behavior from myself. "Oh, that's just the CDP being the CDP. He's like that; it's fine."

It's not. Even I know that it's not. Let's continue.

As the graduation party moved along, my spirits were picked up by a stunning karaoke performance of 'Paradise By The Dashboard Light,' sung by Ben and Erin. Ben put on a performance for the ages, resulting in what was honestly one of the funniest things I've ever seen anyone do. Ben's a funny guy, but when he gets a microphone in front of him, he becomes a different man. I've seen it happen for 10 years now, going back to when he was the lead singer in our old punk band. They should have just shut off the lights and struck the set after that performance; there was simply nothing that was going to top it. I wanted to go home immediately afterwards; what was the point of not leaving on a high note?

For the remainder of the evening, many people were pressuring me into singing karaoke myself. Considering my physical condition at the time, coupled with my emotional state and the fact that there was going to be nothing cooler than Ben's performance short of dropping my pants and teabagging someone's Whiskey Sour, I refused until people kind of got snippy with me. Eventually, I stood on stage briefly for a rendition of 'Love Shack,' where I played the role of that one gay guy that's in the B-52's.

Then, mercifully, it was time to go home.

On the car ride back, I asked my wife if the guest of honor had a good time. She sort of snapped at me, saying something like, "How should I know? You were there too, you know." She was confused as to why I was asking her such a non-selfish question, which is exactly how she should have responded to me. I don't ask these questions because I don't care, but I was starting to realize that maybe I should. This revelation was met with anger and confusion from the Missus, who has long since grown accustomed to my selfish and egotistical ways.

I deserved it.

For the first time in a very long time, I'm really starting to be concerned about my attitude and personal outlook. I've always stated that you should be able to live whatever life you choose to live, provided it's not making anyone else's life miserable. Pretend as they may, I'm starting to think that I'm negatively affecting those around me with my Bipolar quirks and OCD-tendencies. It's nice of them to ignore the worst of me and focus on the good stuff, but if the roles were reversed, I would have thrown myself out of the Circle of Friends years ago. Something's gotta give.

So, what should I do about it? I hear there's all sorts of wonderful medication out there that destroys your creativity, strips you of any sort of emotional high and completely snuffs out your sex drive. What? You're saying that I can stop being a jerk around people, and all I have to do is give up writing and sex? Where do I sign? I should have done this years ago!

Yeah, that's not going to happen. If you know me well, you'll know that I like to combat stress and depression with harder and harder work. To me, stagnation and standing still make you as good as dead, and maybe it's this current complacency that's put my mind in this emo funk. What I need is a big project to work on, and come this Summer, I'll probably get my wish. Hell, I was supposed to finish my book a year ago; when's that coming out?

This, like all things, will soon pass. I'll get my head back on straight, my close friends will feel more comfortable around me, and vice-versa. I just need to make sure it happens before I lose everything.

Sound off in the comments section, and hook a brother up with some positivity.

This essay, along with many others just like it, is available in 65 Poor Life Decisions, the debut book by Wisconsin humorist, blogger and raconteur, Ryan J. Zeinert.

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